fantasy book reviews science fiction book reviewsfantasy book review Seanan McGuire October Daye 4. Late EclipsesLate Eclipses by Seanan McGuire

Before I start my review, an aside about the cover art. Chris McGrath has really outdone himself on the cover for Late Eclipses. Wow, that’s gorgeous. It’s also an actual scene from the book, and every element in the scene is important to the story, from her ball gown to her leather jacket to the items she holds.

Moving along to the book, Late Eclipses features a mystery that hits close to home for Toby Daye. Lily, the Lady of the Tea Gardens, falls ill… but it’s supposed to be impossible for Undines to get sick. Then other friends of Toby’s become ill too, and Toby suspects the involvement of an old nemesis of hers, Oleander de Merelands. But no one else has seen or heard from Oleander, and Toby herself has been feeling rather strange lately… could it be that she’s losing her mind?

I love reading the October Daye novels. Seanan McGuire has a wonderful way with words. You never know when a moment of beauty is going to sneak up on you — or a moment of humor:

Every Duchy has something that makes them unique. Golden Gate excels at political intrigue, Wild Strawberries produces amazing chefs, Dreamer’s Glass threatens to invade the neighbors, and so on.

The world-building is great, featuring a plethora of fae beings from folklore, and the political intrigue is always interesting. Late Eclipses has the added bonus of new revelations about the nature of Toby’s mother, Amandine, and of Toby herself. Yes, I love these books. Even when they’re flawed.

 October Daye Series by Seanan McGuire urban fantasy book reviewsAnd, sadly, Late Eclipses is flawed. The problem is Toby. It’s not that I don’t like Toby. I enjoy reading her voice, and I feel for her and want to see her happy. But… she’s just not observant. Which is not good, in a character who is essentially a detective. When she missed a major clue in Rosemary and Rue, I told myself it was because she was blinded by sentiment. When she did it again in A Local Habitation, I excused it because it was tech-related and she’d been a fish during much of the tech boom. This time, it’s just frustrating that, yet again, something jumped out really glaringly at me but didn’t register on Toby’s radar at all. Then there’s the trick to navigating the halls of Shadowed Hills. Toby lived there for years and never noticed, but a teenage boy can live there for a few months and catch on?

It’s also frustrating that, after several scenes of utter awesomeness, Tybalt is randomly absent from the last quarter of the book — and replaced by the bland Connor. I suspect we’re stuck with Connor at center stage for a while, too, as the next book, One Salt Sea, is set in his home realm.

So you’re probably asking me, why am I still giving the book four stars? Well, I enjoyed most of it, and I simply love reading McGuire’s writing style and sinking into her faerie world for a few days. I just wish Toby would become more observant, and that the hinted romance with Tybalt would finally get at least a little bit off the ground.

~Kelly Lasiter

fantasy book review Seanan McGuire October Daye 4. Late EclipsesLike Kelly, whose review of this book I thoroughly agree with, I love October Daye. I think the series is getting darker and less humorous as it goes on, which is all to the good for my taste. Toby has challenges that test her limits, and she doesn’t always succeed. She is a deep, true character about whom I always want to read more.

~Terry Weyna

Published in 2011. October “Toby” Daye, changeling knight in the service of Duke Sylvester Torquill, finds the delicate balance of her life shattered when she learns that an old friend is in dire trouble. Lily, Lady of the Tea Gardens, has been struck down by a mysterious, seemingly impossible illness, leaving her fiefdom undefended. Struggling to find a way to save Lily and her subjects, Toby must confront her own past as an enemy she thought was gone forever raises her head once more: Oleander de Merelands, one of the two people responsible for her fourteen-year exile. Time is growing short and the stakes are getting higher, for the Queen of the Mists has her own agenda. With everything on the line, Toby will have to take the ultimate risk to save herself and the people she loves most—because if she can’t find the missing pieces of the puzzle in time, Toby will be forced to make the one choice she never thought she’d have to face again…



  • Kelly Lasiter

    KELLY LASITER, with us since July 2008, is a mild-mannered academic administrative assistant by day, but at night she rules over a private empire of tottering bookshelves. Kelly is most fond of fantasy set in a historical setting (a la Jo Graham) or in a setting that echoes a real historical period (a la George RR Martin and Jacqueline Carey). She also enjoys urban fantasy and its close cousin, paranormal romance, though she believes these subgenres’ recent burst in popularity has resulted in an excess of dreck. She is a sucker for pretty prose (she majored in English, after all) and mythological themes.

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  • Terry Weyna

    TERRY WEYNA, on our staff since December 2010, would rather be reading than doing almost anything else. She reads all day long as an insurance coverage attorney, and in all her spare time as a reviewer, critic and writer. Terry lives in Northern California with her husband, professor emeritus and writer Fred White, two rambunctious cats, and an enormous library.

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